I mentored my third Lean Startup Machine (LSM) Weekend in DC at the end of May and, besides having an awesome time, a few things occurred to me worth sharing for those looking to attend (and get the most out of) an upcoming LSM event.
1. Avoid “my baby” ideas
Bringing your ‘baby’ to LSM has the potential to create friction because the natural inclination to defend the idea quickly creates tension when underlying assumptions are identified. You’ve only got 3 days, don’t waste them debating the wrong issues.
2. Ideas that ‘fit’ your city have an advantage
DC is a city of politics, lawyers, college students, and tourists; New York is heavy on finance and publishing; Baltimore is all about crab cakes; you get the point. 🙂
Teams with ideas targeted to those domains in mind have no problem finding feedback form relevant potential customers.
3. Run a Goldilocks test on personas and problem spaces
Right sizing ideas is key to efficiently using your time. Avoid ideas that too broad or too narrow. I have developed a violent knee-jerk reaction to the persona business traveler and the app that makes traveling easier.
4. Divide and conquer
Once you’ve started to narrow in on the problem hypothesis, create a petal diagram (inspired by Steve Blank’s tool for analyzing competitors) for dissecting customer types. This will help the team divvy up work and get feedback from each potential customer type.
5. Review and understand the Javelin Board ahead of time!
I answered a ton of questions about how to use the board, some of which I expected. However, winning teams typically understand the tools and focus more on identifying potential customers and getting feedback to drive their next steps.
I’m always impressed with the amount of work teams accomplish in just 3 short days. Getting comfortable with the uncomfortable pace of LSM Weekend is one of the ways to create the positive sense of urgency required to move any idea forward.